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Man gets prison for assaulting police officers

Published June 17. 2011 05:02PM

A Carbon County man, who assaulted three police officers and whose defense attorney said he was high on bath salts at the time, was sentenced to a county prison term on Thursday.

Daniel Wassil, 25, of 2947 Wetzel Run Road, Packer Township, was sentenced by Judge Steven R. Serfass to serve a total of 10 months to one day less than 24 months in the county prison on two counts of aggravated assault and one count of simple assault.

Wassil was arrested at his home on Nov. 28, 2010, when state Trooper Michael Borosh responded to the residence to a report of an out-of-control person throwing items and ripping apart clothing. Upon arrival, Borosh found Wassil in a bedroom of the home and he appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance.

Yesterday, attorney Bruce Miller of Hazleton said Wassil was under the influence of bath salts. He said the case might have been the first in northeastern Pennsylvania in which bath salts were used as a defense.

The state legislature has since banned the use of bath salts, and other types of drugs, passing legislation this week. The legislation has not yet been signed by Gov. Tom Corbett.

Miller said Wassil read about the bath salts on the Internet and how they could help a person with pain. He said his client is on disability because of an injury at work in which he sustained considerable damage to his back. He said he takes various types of pain killers. Miller said he would not be able to take the pain killers while in jail because they are narcotics and are not allowed in the prison.

"I don't remember anything," Wassil told Serfass.

He claimed that if he had not used the bath salts, he would not have acted the way he did or assaulted the police officers. He told two of the officers that were present in the court that he was sorry and repeated that it never would have happened if he hadn't taken the bath salts, which he poured into a glass of iced tea and drank.

However, Trooper Robert Christman, one of the assaulted troopers, disputed some of Wassil's claims. Prior to the sentencing Wassil entered a guilty plea to one count of possession with intent to deliver drug paraphernalia.

He was arrested at the Dollar Store in Weatherly on March 19. Police responded to the area to a report of a suspicious vehicle. Upon arrival, officers found Wassil inside the store wearing a long black coat. He was asked to step outside. Found on his person was a pipe used to smoke marijuana. A search of the vehicle not only revealed more drugs and drug paraphernalia, but various weapons.

Christman said if Wassil learned how bad bath salts were, he didn't take it seriously. He said Wassil had bath salts in his vehicle at the March incident.

Christman said when Borish responded to the home he went there to help Wassil, instead, he got kicked in the chest and punched. When he arrived, along with Officer George Keifer of the Weatherly police to assist Borish, it took the three officers to subdue Wassil, who was tasered twice during the struggle.

Christman, in response to Miller's statement that none of the officers required medical attention, said the only reason the three did not need medical help was because of their training and physical condition.

Keifer asked Serfass to send a message about the use of such drugs. He said that all the paraphernalia found at the March arrest indicated Wassil had little respect for the law, noting Wassil was on bail for the assault incident at the time.

Serfass agreed.

"This was a very serious situation," Serfass said, "but for the training of the officers, this could have turned out to be very tragic."

In addition to the jail term, Serfass also imposed one year of probation consecutive to the jail term. Wassil was also ordered to get both a drug and alcohol and mental health evaluations, zero tolerance imposed on drug and alcohol use, supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee, and was given credit for 21 days spent in prison on the charge.

On the drug count Serfass placed Wassil on probation for a year, concurrent to the first charge, and ordered he render 50 hours of community service when released on parole. He must also pay court costs and a $50 per month supervision fee. He was given credit for five days spent in prison on the charge.

He begins the prison term at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 20.

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